Labour History

Black-Bans and Black Eyes: Implications of the 1971 Springbok Rugby Tour

Labour History (2015), 108, (1), 145–163.


The 1971 Springbok rugby tour has become infamous for disruptive anti-apartheid protests, which culminated in the declaration of a State of Emergency in Queensland. Opposed to the racist selection policies of the South African national team, the trade union movement and the New Left attempted to directly stop the tour. Conservative governments took extreme measures to undermine a union black-ban, while rugby games were marred by clashes between police and demonstrators. This article offers the first sustained examination of this protest campaign. It traces efforts to stop the tour, connecting the role of the union movement to that of the New Left, and examines the reactions of governments and police forces.

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*This article is based on my honours thesis, entitled“‘There were Two Games Going on’: Disruptive Protest and the 1971 Springbok Tour”(Hons thesis,School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne2012). It has been revised, abridged, and procrastinated over, but its argument remains intact. I would like to thank my supervisor, Professor Stuart Macintyre, who provided invaluable assistance in the planning, research, and writing of the thesis. I benefitted greatly from his influence. I would also like to thank Associate Professor Sean Scalmer, who assessed the initial thesis, andLabour History‘s two anonymous referees. Google Scholar

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Author details

Scott, Nick